Is Emmanuel Ledesma the Biggest Sports Star in Cincinnati?
Probably not. But that’s not going to stop me from writing about it.
Emmanuel Ledesma has been pure class on the field as soon as he showed up in Cincinnati. His playmaking abilities were evident from the start, and there has been no looking back. A friend of mine is a New York Cosmos die-hard and I can tell you he was very upset to see Ledesma leave the big apple.
“Manu” has he is affectionately called, started off on the right wing for FC Cincinnati, dropping bombs into the box for Konig and Welshman to connect with. Coach Koch correctly realized that Manu’s talents were being, essentially, wasted on the wings. Bringing him in more centrally has allowed the 29 year old Argentine become to star of Cincinnati’s darling team.
Leading FC Cincinnati in both goals and assists this year, Ledesma has become the focal point of the best attack in the Eastern Conference. And FC Cincinnati is a completely different team without him on the field. In the midweek disaster that was the match against Bethlehem Steel, Ledesma was sitting out due to yellow card accumulation. And with him on the bench, FCC failed to see out a game in which they were a man up for almost the entire second half.
So, if Emmanuel Ledesma is the best player on the best team in Cincinnati, he has to be the city’s biggest sports star, right?
We can look at a few of the other contenders. Let’s start in college. We can go ahead and throw out the UC Bearcats football team, at least until this upcoming season. Bearcats basketball just had a few of the big names graduate or head to the draft leaving… Jarron Cumberland? But can a UC basketball player be the biggest sports star when there is Xavier in contention? Probably not. Oh and thanks to JP Macura graduating, there really isn’t anyone at Xavier worth writing home about either.
So how about the Reds? Scooter Gennett is a fun guy to watch. Scooter has turned into a offensive weapon for the Reds that is worth buying a ticket to see. He is so good that he probably won’t be a Red for much longer. Thanks rebuild! But we always have Joey Votto. The best pure hitter the game, maybe ever, is the most likely suspect for biggest superstar the Reds have to offer. But as far as a superstar is concerned, it’s hard to get super excited about his style of play. Sure, plate discipline and pitch selection are vital to success, it is just hard to get excited about a guy who’s best asset is taking walks. Basically, he’s great at not doing anything. Give me the absurdity of butt-tags from Brandon Phillips or the Home-Run derby of Todd Frazier. Please. He’s a player that is great for the stat-heads because the traditional baseball guys aren’t completely sold either; just ask Marty Brennaman and Dusty Baker.
Then finally the Bengals. For most NFL teams the Quarterback is the first place you’d look to find a superstar in a city. Not so much here in Cincinnati. Andy Dalton is at best tolerated by fans and at worst is absolutely hated. While Andy Dalton isn’t the superstar of the Queen City, the actual answer is probably AJ Green. Green has been a monster at receiver setting a bar that very few, if any, can surpass in the NFL. Green has the ability to turn a game on its head and pull something out of nothing. AJ Green is the one player that every Bengals fan enjoys and can get behind, that fact alone probably puts him at the top of the Cincinnati Superstar list.
So while Emmanuel Ledesma probably isn’t THE superstar in Cincinnati, he’s getting close. And the people in front of him, Joey Votto and AJ Green, are among the best in their positions in the world. But they also play for terrible teams. They play for teams that Cincinnati sports fans are increasingly sick of. So the options aren't necessirly "great" outside of Manu. Ledesma is coming into his own centrally and is a regular on Sportscenter's Top 10. If Manu can move to MLS and bring a bag of goals with him, he could very easily find himself as our city’s top superstar.